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Friday, November 27, 2020

Opinion

Trans-Pacific Partnership bad for American workers


Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

The U.S. and other nations negotiating the largest trade deal in history reached an agreement on Oct. 5, and you should be paying attention to this deal’s progress.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been one of the Obama administration’s highest priorities in its last years in office. This deal not only involves the U.S. and Japan, but 10 other countries in the Pacific Rim.

While President Obama has previously criticized free trade deals in the past, his administration has aggressively pursued the passage of this deal. Even more surprisingly (or unsurprisingly if you’re a cynic) is the fact that the TPP is frequently being compared to NAFTA by the administration.

This should concern every working American.

Before and after it was implemented, NAFTA was criticized for benefiting corporations at the expense of workers’ jobs in the United States. The Obama administration has repeatedly defended the much larger TPP as an upgrade to NAFTA in every way, but critics of the deal are not reassured by that argument.

“(The Trans-Pacific Partnership will) be the same (as NAFTA), but bigger,” associate professor of history Robert Buzzanco said. “The bankers are for it, and the people aren’t, so that’s how you know who it benefits.”

If this deal only benefits bankers and large corporations, then you can bet that labor unions are on the defensive.

Labor unions have certainly expressed their animosity toward the deal and with good reason. The idea of workers’ jobs being outsourced to other countries has kept labor unions on the defensive when it comes to trade deals ever since NAFTA.

Even Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who has received much labor union support, has come out against the deal. Other than being compared to NAFTA, labor unions have been skeptical from the beginning of negotiations for the deal. They have good reason, too.

“There are provisions in it to offset unemployment and provide benefits for those that lose their jobs because of this agreement, but it’s never going to be enough to offset the implications of what actually happens (to labor in the United States as a result of the deal’s implementation),” said associate professor of political science Michelle Belco.

This is precisely why labor unions have been weary of any free trade deals. The announcement of any negotiations regarding free trade almost always holds the insinuation of job outsourcing.

After years of slow progress for labor workers’ benefits in the U.S., the possible reality that their jobs can be taken away and given to people who have no benefits seems like a cruel routine.

The uncertainty to the safety of someone’s job in the U.S. as a result of this deal should make any supporter of this deal hold caution. Nobody in the U.S. should lose their job because someone in another country can do it cheaper.

What would be the worth of all the progress labor workers have made in this country? Sanitary working conditions, decent pay and the power to negotiate will all be worthless if American labor jobs are no longer necessary because of these free trade deals.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that the American economy really succeeds when American workers are happy with their jobs and when they still have them.

Opinion columnist Samuel Pichowsky is a political science sophomore and may be reached [email protected]

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